With US Tie, Cubans Have Better Access to Internet

04 September, 2015

The United States and Cuba officially re-established diplomatic relations two months ago. The re-establishment of ties had led to better access of the Internet across Cuba.

Until recently, it has been difficult for Cubans to connect online with the rest of the world. Reports say only five percent of the population has full use of the Internet. But now, the Cuban government has approved sales of pre-paid cards for use of the Internet. Users need to buy them before they go online.

Roberto Gonzalez of Cuba is a wireless Internet user. He is happy about the government's approval. He says "It's a possibility that has been given to the people, to connect to the world and communicate with their friends. I think this is a positive development."

The Cuban government owns the telecommunications company ETECSA. The company sells a limited number of the pre-paid cards each day. Cubans can buy 30 minutes of Internet time for about two dollars.

Galeano Park is one of 35 wireless centers set up across Cuba. The pre-paid cards can be used for any cell phone, computer laptop or tablet. But there are restrictions. Internet users can only make video calls using a government-approved application called the IMU" app.

Joe Arriola is a former city manager of Miami, Florida. He is happy with the developments in Cuba. "It is time to open the doors and communicate," he says. "It's time to see how the two countries benefit. And I think that the two countries have opportunities to benefit."

The Cuban government says that Internet service is only provided by satellite because of U.S. restrictions on Cuba. But many people hope that the re-establishment of relations will enable technology companies to build stronger communications links. Selling pre-paid cards is the first step in this new process. The process might soon include more communication towers, fiber optic cable and sales of Apple iPhones.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Celia Mendoza and Diana Logeira reported this story from Havana and Washington. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in this Story

access n. a way of being able to use or get something; use of something

benefit – n. a good or helpful result or effect

tower – n. a tall structure

fiber optic(s) – n. thin threads of glass or plastic to carry large amounts of information in the form of light signals